By Gerard Gough

MISSIO Scotland was the proud beneficiary of an extraordinary fundraising effort recently as Coatbridge woman Gina O’Neill celebrated raising more than £20,000 for the charity.

Gina, who is originally from Ballina in Mayo, Ireland, has lived in Scotland for the past 49 years and is an integral part of parish life at St Patrick’s in Coatbridge. She is a Eucharistic minister and reader at the church and also helps out in the shop and tearoom after Mass.

Many years ago, in the wake of a visit by missionary priest to the parish, Gina (above in the red coat) was inspired to start collecting door-to-door for the Association for the Propagation of the Faith branch of Missio Scotland, bringing in between £800-1000 every year in the process. She then changed tact 10 years ago and decided to ask people after Mass in the tearoom to donate 50p per week and soon built up a book of eager donors. Earlier this month, she broke through the £20,000 barrier in fundraising for Missio Scotland, something that she puts down to having ‘the gift of the gab!’

“I can’t believe we’ve collected that amount,” she said. “I’m absolutely delighted. It was meant to just be an initiative that lasted for a few years but it’s continued for longer than expected. I’ll only stop collecting money for the charity when I’m no longer able to!”

Fr Tom Welsh, National Director of Missio Scotland, paid tribute to Gina’s endeavours saying: “It’s an incredible amount to have raised and we’re very grateful to Gina for all of her efforts. Her energy and enthusiasm has really captivated people and thanks to her, missionaries and mission communities around the world will reap the benefits.”